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James 3:5-8

Context
3:5 So too the tongue is a small part of the body, 1  yet it has great pretensions. 2  Think 3  how small a flame sets a huge forest ablaze. 3:6 And the tongue is a fire! The tongue represents 4  the world of wrongdoing among the parts of our bodies. It 5  pollutes the entire body and sets fire to the course of human existence – and is set on fire by hell. 6 

3:7 For every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and sea creature 7  is subdued and has been subdued by humankind. 8  3:8 But no human being can subdue the tongue; it is a restless 9  evil, full of deadly poison.

1 tn Grk “a small member.”

2 tn Grk “boasts of great things.”

3 tn Grk “Behold.”

4 tn Grk “makes itself,” “is made.”

5 tn Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

6 sn The word translated hell is “Gehenna” (γέεννα, geenna), a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew words ge hinnom (“Valley of Hinnom”). This was the valley along the south side of Jerusalem. In OT times it was used for human sacrifices to the pagan god Molech (cf. Jer 7:31; 19:5-6; 32:35), and it came to be used as a place where human excrement and rubbish were disposed of and burned. In the intertestamental period, it came to be used symbolically as the place of divine punishment (cf. 1 En. 27:2, 90:26; 4 Ezra 7:36).

7 tn Grk (plurals), “every kind of animals and birds, of reptiles and sea creatures.”

8 tn Grk “the human species.”

9 tc Most mss (C Ψ 1739c Ï as well as a few versions and fathers) read “uncontrollable” (ἀκατασχετόν, akatasceton), while the most important witnesses (א A B K P 1739* latt) have “restless” (ἀκατάστατον, akatastaton). Externally, the latter reading should be preferred. Internally, however, things get a bit more complex. The notion of being uncontrollable is well suited to the context, especially as a counterbalance to v. 8a, though for this very reason scribes may have been tempted to replace ἀκατάστατον with ἀκατασχετόν. However, in a semantically parallel early Christian text, ἀκατάστατος (akatastato") was considered strong enough of a term to denounce slander as “a restless demon” (Herm. 27:3). On the other hand, ἀκατάστατον may have been substituted for ἀκατασχετόν by way of assimilation to 1:8 (especially since both words were relatively rare, scribes may have replaced the less familiar with one that was already used in this letter). On internal evidence, it is difficult to decide, though ἀκατασχετόν is slightly preferred. However, in light of the strong support for ἀκατάστατον, and the less-than-decisive internal evidence, ἀκατάστατον is preferred instead.



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